Tom Bosschaert

Tom Bosschaert

Areas of expertise

  • Integrated Sustainable Development & Project Management
  • Systems Analysis & Strategy
  • Architecture
  • Urban Design, City & Community Planning


  • Lush forests
  • Complex challenges
  • XKCD

Tom Bosschaert


Tom is the founder and director of Except, and the visionary force behind its development. He is also the chairman of the Environment Committee of the World Institute for Change Management and Innovation (WICMI) in Switzerland.

Tom founded Except at the age of 19 in 1999 with a mission to find systemic solutions for our societal challenges by combining science, business, design, and communication. In the past decades, he has developed several hundred projects globally, for groundbreaking sustainable cities, buildings, business, policy, and industry. Tom’s vision shows that we can flourish globally when we simultaneously integrate environmental, societal, economical, and technical aspects in our society. He is a frequent keynote speaker, and author of the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework and books.

Listen to interviews with Tom above, on how he decided to start working on sustainability at 19 years of age, on understanding sustainability, and the power and inspiration of systems thinking.


Tom has been recognized in the past few decades as a leader in sustainable thinking, the circular economy, and systemic innovation. In 2014 he was elected number 38 of the most influential sustainability professionals in the Netherlands by national newspaper Trouw, and ranked 21st on the Dutch Sustainable Real Estate awards. At his initiative, the UCo center for sustainable entrepreneurship was opened in Utrecht in 2017. This center has brought over 150 sustainability pioneers together in the first energy-neutral, circular, and future-proof listed heritage building in Europe.

Tom developed the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework that lies at the core of Except’s operations. In 2019, after 10 years of work, he published the first book about this methodology. SiD combines systems thinking, complexity analysis, iterative design thinking, and co-creation in multi-disciplinary teams. With SiD, Tom leads transdisciplinary teams to develop pioneering solutions that push the boundaries of what's possible. These include solutions for the circular economy, natural capital, smart urban redevelopment, bio-based economy, and resilience research and development.

Tom is a frequent keynote speaker on systemic sustainability, design, and innovation for international conferences and as a guest lecturer in universities around the world. He has worked in Australia, Canada, China, the Netherlands, Singapore, Vietnam, Portugal, the Philippines, Belgium, Italy, and the United States. He also regularly publishes articles, some of which are published here.

After completing his Master in Industrial Design Engineering in Delft, Tom studied Architecture in Australia at the University of Western Australia and obtained his Master’s degree in Architecture & Urban Planning at Yale University.

Project highlights

As director and designer, he's driven Except's bio-based architectural and urban designs, such as the Merredin Algae plant, Shanghai vertical agriculture tower systems, Salesforce Park in San Francisco, ReGen Villages in Oosterwold, Almere, and the urban redevelopment of large and small cities around the world. This includes their energy systems, ecosystem services, resource metabolisms, business models and the health and happiness of their people. In 2016 he launched the concept of Catalytic buildings, and started the development of the first entirely self sufficient city model of Orchid City in 2019. He spearheads developments ranging from software for supply chain optimization to sustainable agriculture systems such as Polydome.


Natural Capital & new innovation strategies

How to accelerate natural value systems

Symbiosis in Development (SiD)

Sustainability innovation framework

Catalytic Buildings White Paper

Tuning in to the construction sector’s “music of tomorrow”

UN Sustainability goal 11: Cities

Dawn of the urban micro community

Reinventing Cartagena's Fortress

How to transform deserted fortresses into major assets for the city

Renaissance van stadsontwikkeling

Renaissance van stadsontwikkeling

Muddy feet

Visit from the directorate team DG Environment and International

RecoveryPark Detroit site visit

Urban recovery in progress...

The SiD definition of Sustainability

A Fresh Understanding for New Opportunity

Detroit Urban Regen Launched

Dutch Agri-food and Greenhouse Technology Trade Mission to Detroit

Methods for Urban Traffic Reduction

Effective tools for traffic management

Tools for Walkable Cities

Pedestrianization as a strategy

Large Scale Urban Agriculture

Supplying (plenty of) food for the city

LED & Artificial Light Guide

How to choose the best lamp for your purpose

Solar Updraft Tower Upgrade

Improving vertical updraft towers for renewable energy

Symbiosis in Development: ELSI

A holistic and powerful categorization system

Panoramic Photographs

Our images from across the globe

2010 Global Priorities

Critical focus points

Labels don't guarantee sustainability

The importance of organization wide strategy

Natural Capital & new innovation strategies

How to accelerate natural value systems

How To Truly Connect?

A gridnight report from Esther Populier

What can we do with the self-driving car?

Reanne Boersma (TU Delft) and Bart Stoffels (Except)

COVID-19's lesson to the world: the need for resilience

Why preparing for uncertainty and adaptation is critical

New climate insight revealed

Unexpected predictions from the military and insurance industry on the effects of climate change

Vietnam's Race to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions

Moving toward sustainable buildings and cities

The Rise of Systemic Investments

Moving beyond impact investing toward a systemic approach

How Innovation Communities Enhance Sustainability

A three-part series for Sustainable Vietnam

The World’s Best Systems Thinkers: Part 1

Diversity in Greatness

The World’s Best Systems Thinkers: Part 2

Diversity in greatness

Innovative buildings bolster urban sustainability

Lessons in Passive design, preserving heritage & adaptive reuse

The ongoing earthquakes in ESG-Land

An overview of ESG's major landscape shifts

Learning from failed Utopia

Failure and success in sustainable city design

Crafting hope from grief

Building personal leadership in the face of global crises


Serenity Farms

Sustainable food production in arid regions

Utrecht Community (UCo)

Dutch national center for sustainable entrepreneurship

IKEA Catalogue Supply Chain Dashboards

Intuitive Dashboards Enable Sustainable Decision Making

Roadmap to the BGI Manual

Bridging the knowledge gap of Blue Green Infrastructure

ReGen Villages Oosterwold

Masterplan for a self sustaining neighborhood

Urban regen sustainable cities

Integrated action plans for sustainable urban improvement

Revolution of the IKEA Paper Supply-Chain

Changing the world's print industry

Shanghai Urban Masterplan

Urban Masterplan embedding Vertical Agriculture

Polydome: Sustainable Agriculture

High-Performance innovation food-solutions

Schiphol Catalyst Office Concept

Boosting sustainability at Amsterdam Airport's business precinct

Salesforce Park Transit Center - San Francisco

The world's largest ecological rooftop park

Sustainable Urban Districts: 2015 Global Review (WWF)

New strategies from exemplary settlements

Hortus Celestia

Vertical farm & office tower

Arkna Eco-Park Masterplan

Self-sustaining tourism community in Estonia

Merredin Health Industries Spirulina Plant

Rural Regeneration Algae plant

LC packaging - No Time To Waste

Jump-starting a journey toward sustainability

Meat Sector Roadmap

Towards an integrated circular sector

Carpet sector roadmap

Mapping the carpet sector towards 2030


System modeling and simulation software

Sustainable Development Catharijnesingel Utrecht

Full spectrum sustainability strategy for urban infrastructure

Waddenworld: UNESCO Experience Center

World Heritage Center @ Lauwersoog/Wadden Sea

Miya's Sustainable Sushi Restaurant

Realizing the world's most sustainable sushi restaurant

Sustainable Water Innovation Game

A social card game that connects stakeholders

Highway x City

The future of the Utrecht urban ring road

Schiphol-Oost Pioneer Park

Vision and strategy for sustainable transformation of a business park at Schiphol Airport

Natural Capital means Business

Bringing Natural Capital into the boardroom

MSC Datahub

Data-ecosystem concept for the Marine Stewardship Council

Elst forest villa renovation

Energy and water neutral circular house renovation

Atlas Natural Capital

Improving online resources for natural capital

Trade mission Detroit

Launch of Detroit Urban Regen

Climate Adaptation Governance and financing

Working conference

Food for the Urbanite

The role of city-dwellers in food production

Opportunity Map Waste Water

Introducing sustainable opportunities

Infographic: Wind power and the Economy

Supporting the proliferation of renewables

A Vision for Sustainable Public Transport

Action plan for Rotterdam

The Rotterdam Collective (RoCo)

Fostering entrepreneurial spirit and social progress

The Dandelion Project

Web 3.0 Visual Information Management & Collaboration

Leaders for Nature

Shared Resources and solutions within the IUCN network

Flemish Metropolitan Dreams

A new vision for housing in Flanders

DNV Waste Water Chains

A Vision for wastewater treatment in the Netherlands

House of Energy Book

Inspiration Book Energy Neutral Living

Greenprint Book

Example book of sustainability in the built environment

Portal to Venlo

Sustainable Greenhouse Industry Area Development

Inspiration Book for a Sustainable Overschie

Quickscan of potential development options for urban redevelopment

Maasterras Sustainability Scan

Mapping the opportunities of a river city

Centrum Spiritual Center

Community center in Toronto, Canada

Boston Fort Point Masterplan

Sustainable urban redevelopment

Wesleyan University Teaching Museum

Sustainability through flexibility

Rome Apartment Building

New Architecture in the heart of old Rome

Desert House, Kalgoorlie, Australia

Zero energy affordable dwelling

BKCity Slim Refurbishment

Sustainable Renovation of TUDelft's Architecture Faculty

Yale Carbon Calculator

Real-time footprint from travel and events

Crystal Forest Circular Office

Zero-Energy Warehouse Retrofit

Netherlands CO2040

Can the country be CO2-free by 2040?

System Transition Wood Construction NL

Establishing a sustainable timber industry in the Netherlands

Integrated Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Egypt

Creating food in the Egyptian Desert

Herenboeren International

Expanding Herenboeren internationally towards 80 farms

Regen Festivals

Traveling festivals regenerate nature and communities

City park van Hasselt Roosendaal

Climate adaptive garden transforms a parking lot

IKEA Foundation's Agricultural Livelihoods Strategy

Utilizing systemic investment for more impactful grantmaking


Keep the Arctic in the Arctics

IKEA Catalogue Story of Print

Interactive Story Telling Tools Promote Stakeholder Engagement

Polydome Arkna

Feasibility Study and Business Plan

Amsterdam Bike Tunnel (IJfietstunnel)

Fast, comfortable and dry on your bike to North

RGD Building Portfolio Scan

Opportunities for sustainable redevelopment

Action plan for a future-proof Roosendaal

A transformation to a climate adaptive and vibrant city center

Investment Projects

Cutting edge sustainable development

Growth Planning for Sustainable Urban Development

Next-Generation and Open Source City Planning

Growth-Planning Area Planning & Development

Next Generation Open Source City Planning - June 2009

RoCo Office Interior

Fitting out a sustainable workspace

Loup: the Square of Spaces

Reimagining the Use of a monumental prison complex

Estonian Industrial Symbiosis Agro-Park (EISAP)

Europe’s most ambitious and sustainable industrial agro-park

ViCo - Vietnam's first Sustainability Center

Building long term partnerships for innovation

Middelburg Sint Laurens Sustainable Masterplan

Using the Orchid City framework to improve systemic sustainability

Sircle Collection Hotels Strategy

Sustainability vision and guidelines for bespoke hotel group

Starprint Vietnam Sustainability Journey

Moving towards a sustainable packaging industry in Asia

Cool Neighbourhoods

Regenerating urban heat stress areas in European cities